Listen to “167: Awakened Intimacy – Maci Daye” on Spreaker.
Maci Daye joins us today to talk about awakened intimacy and share some of the practices she uses with couples. This episode discusses awakened intimacy in the context of mindfulness, being present and attentive during sex. There’s talk of effective practices on how to use what happens to increase passion and grow in the face of challenges.
What is Awakened Intimacy?
Maci defines awakened intimacy as a willingness to expand your idea of sex to include aspects you haven’t tried before – pleasure, joy and even a little bit of suffering. We’re used to the assumption that sex is pleasurable, and it becomes easy to have that assumption. So when people have confusing and triggering experiences, as Maci says, it gives a window of an opportunity to learn from what happened to heal and grow. This is what awakened intimacy is – a transformational path.
Awakened intimacy for everyone
Awakened intimacy is not just for couples who want to overcome challenges in their relationship, but it’s also for people who want to love themselves better. Maci states awakened intimacy is useful because you want to be more compassionate, loving and wise. And sex is an integral part of it.
Sex & intimacy are a part of your healing process
You don’t have to put off resolving issues of your sex-life on hold while resolving issues of other parts of life. Maci says all of these are interlinked and sex is an integral part of it. You bring yourself into every experience in your life, and sex is an experience through which you connect the most with your partner. So, if you don’t include sex, no matter how much resolve and connect with your partner, it won’t transfer into your sex life and intimacy.
How does awakened intimacy differ from mindful sex?
Maci defines mindfulness as a tool to be used in the process of awakening. She defines it as a practice to modify your sexual process by including a “quality of attention that is present, curious and exploratory”. She also points out that other than opening you up to an awakening journey, mindfulness also improves your sexual functioning and genital health. Mindfulness also brings out the pleasure of passionate and attentive sex in couples who’ve been together for a long time. She suggests couples connect with their conscience to explore and discover new things while they’re making love. We’re wired to repeat patterns in life and in the bedroom which go unnoticed. With mindfulness, we can recognize these patterns in the bedroom and make changes to break the pattern. Maci calls it “updating your sexual operating system”.
Practices for couples facing a challenge in the bedroom
For couples who reach an impasse in the bedroom, should research their experiences during sex to examine and repair the wounds. Maci shares a three-step process she does with couples where they stop and share their experience instead of getting stuck in a repeat loop of avoidance. It allows couples to pause when they identify a trigger signal and research into the experience to recognize patterns and habits. ”The only place to heal a past wound is in the present, we can only heal wounds that are visible”, says Maci. While it’s difficult to describe these patterns to your partner, when met with support, you can move onto the next step of adjustment.
The next step is to make an adjustment by sharing your experience with your partner and together figuring out a solution to make changes. Maci also suggests rapid-fire interrogation attached with receptive curiosity and mindfully check in to make adjustments for a better outcome. Going a bit further Maci also suggests “co-designing” that went wrong in the past, with the added adjustments and mindfulness.
Advice for people unaware of their own experiences
Often people are not in tune with their experiences and power through their sex-life without checking in. For those couples, Maci shares an exercise where couples set a timer to pause and evaluate what’s happening in their experiences – their emotions, sensations and even thoughts. This allows a person to share what’s happening with their experience without directing the blame onto their partner. It allows a couple to really dwell on the moment and explore.
How to invite the unchallenged partner into the process?
In this process, it’s quick to shift all the attention into resolving the issues surrounding the person with the triggered experience. In that case, the other partner without a challenging experience could feel unheard. It’s important to note their experience in reaction to their partner’s experience. The unchallenged partner should also identify and share their needs and limits. It once again comes back to couples studying and adjusting by sharing their experiences. When couples recognize each other’s needs and emotions and start working towards them, that’s when they have a satisfying sex-life.
What is the EROS cycle in erotic attunement?
Couples who want to break out of having a routine or informed sex without any inside-out authentic pleasure can attain erotic attunement by following the EROS cycle. Maci describes Erotic attunement as the idea of being in the moment and in tune with your own body and your partner’s where you feel foreign impulses and you feel free to follow the to have unscripted sex. EROS cycle helps us achieve that. E stands for embody and attune, R stands for relating and relaxing our goals, O stands for opening to impulses and new directions and S stands for savoring pleasure. Maci also brings our attention to the struggles we may face in this challenging cycle such as, not connecting with your body, having a hard time trusting impulses, feeling safe to express those impulses or responding openly and even relating.
EROS cycle in attunement is part of what couples could do as they keep encountering difficulties. Maci urges couples to have an attuned embodied experience as they go through challenges.
Maci Daye is the Creator of Passion & Presence, a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Hakomi Therapist, and Certified Sex Therapist with over 25 years experience in social service, higher education and private practice. She holds graduate degrees from Harvard and Georgia State Universities and has completed the intermediate level Somatic Experiencing trauma training.
She operates LifeWorks Counseling & Seminars, Inc. in Atlanta, GA and co-runs Hakomi of Mallorca (in Spain) with her partner Halko Weiss. In addition to clinical practice, Maci is on the faculty of the Hakomi Institute and teaches in the southeastern United States and Europe. Maci has led sexuality retreats and training courses for helping professionals in the USA, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico and has presented at several conferences in Europe and the USA.
Resources and links:
Listen to “156: The 5 Seasons of Connection – Leanne Kabat” on Spreaker.
The 5 Seasons of Connection
On this episode, we hear about Leanne Kabat’s personal journey. Faced with an illness and a young family, she found clarity and direction on how to choose to get out of chaos or conflict. She discusses what she calls the five seasons, what they mean and how to get to the “Summer” that we all love and need.
Dealing with Issues
She shares Spring cleaning methods that different people prefer in order to resolve difficult situations. Glossing things over is not an option, as the reference of Spring cleaning implies. She emphasizes getting dirty, uncovering painful or hidden issues in your relationship and dealing with it.
Leeanne talks about her book and how she initially thought it was going to be about the other person in her relationships but finding that its actually about yourself. She also shares her discovery about multiple layers to intimacy as opposed to a blanket idea. It also covers levels of awareness in your relationship. Her book delves into unpacking all your issues and difficult moments to connect and instead of holding hurt, growing your relationship from it.
Categories of Intimacy
Leanne discusses these 7 categories in more detail in her book. The point of these categories is for people to try and connect on as many levels as possible.
- Spiritual- which can be anything you connect with on a deeper level eg religion, nature, etc.
- Physical- is separated from sexual as Leanne highlights that it can be used outside of foreplay and not requiring a sexual act back. It can be used to communicate love and affection apart from sex
- Experiential- She explains the experiential category as the many areas you and your partner have common threads that enhance connection.
Leanne Kabat is an international speaker and author of The 5 Seasons of Connection collection. Her books take us right into those crucial minute-by-minute interactions where we either draw closer together or push further apart. When we understand our seasons, we can transform our relationships from conflicted to connected by confidently moving out of the cold, dark, stormy
Winters towards love, happiness, and sunny Summer days. Her first book customizes this system for parents, her second book helps entrepreneurs who battle with doubt, anxiety, mental blocks and imposter syndrome, and her third book is for couples. The 5 Seasons of Connection to Your Love Partner goes into the most profound adult relationship we have, guiding couples out of Winter and towards their deepest love and truest connection.
Leanne developed the 5 Seasons framework as a result of a medical diagnosis in 2006 that gave her five years to live, challenging her to truly live a life she loved. Fourteen years later, she’s happily raising three teens and excited to visit her 50th country when it’s safe to do so.
Links and Resources
Listen to “153: Love More, Fight Less – Dr. Gina Senarighi” on Spreaker.
Love More, Fight Less
From early on in her career, Dr Gina knew she wanted to help people with sex and relationships. Her work delved into the more uncommon areas such as discernment counseling, conscious uncoupling, and consensual non-monogamy.
Her work today revolves around a diverse group of clients, which she calls expansive relationships. Dr Gina explains expansive relationships as relationships between partners that want to explore and encompass more of themselves, people who want to “color outside of the lines.”
Looking Deeper into Our Stories
Gina deals with many stories and talks about how we all have stories. She notes that we need to look at our own actions and history in a healthier way and finds that this can bring us to realizations in our lives that help us better understand ourselves. Exploring our norms does not mean we need to scrap them but rather encourages us to better tailor them to our current relationship needs.
Dr Senarighi highlights that vulnerability and intimacy are not the same but that handling vulnerability with care can deepen intimacy in a relationship. She explains intimacy as a deep connection with people and explores the different kinds of intimacy around us.
She explains that trust and openness go hand in hand and shares how we can cultivate that openness for ourselves. Dr Gina discusses her book and how important communication is in relationships. It is filled with tools and actionable steps for couples to use to strengthen their communication and deal with obstacles. She uncovers a few examples to give us some insight into what she means.
A few key elements she unpacks that help communication are clarity of boundaries, having a clear and compassionate accountability process and trust and stability in relationships
Dr Gina Senarighi, PhD, CPC is an author, teacher, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach based in the U.S. She’s been supporting clean fights and dirty sex in happy healthy relationships since 2009. Gina has written several books and currently leads couples retreats and coaches clients all over the world to have deeper intimacy and more meaningful connection.
Call for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.
Dr. Gina Senarighi, PhD, CPC is a couples’ therapist turned relationship coach, retreat leader, and author specializing in intimacy, authenticity, shame-resilience, and connected communication for diverse relationships.
For over twelve years she has supported hundreds of clients creating fulfilling integrity-based relationships according to their own rules. In that time she’s developed a solid framework based in neuroscience, nonviolent communication, and positive psychology research that has transformed diverse relationships around the world.
In 2020, she published her first book, Love More Fight Less, A Communication Workbook for Every Couple with Penguin Random House. She earned her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2010 from Saybrook University, her Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Wisconsin in 2002, and a Masters in Education with a minor in Human Sexuality from Indiana University in 2004. In 2019 she completed her PhD in Spiritual Studies and Pastoral Counseling.
Gina was named Portland’s Best Life Coach in 2019 and has taught psychology courses, communication workshops, couples intimacy retreats, and guest lectured on alternative relationships and sex-positive therapy at universities across the US. Students love her no-nonsense “real talk” presentation style.
Her podcast, Swoon has helped over 10,000 listeners build a more compassionate, creative, confident, and fulfilled society. Gina offers practical, proven skills to transform relationships in deeply meaningful ways.
As a retreat coach, her background in psychology, mediation and communication training has enabled her to offer uniquely powerful tools to help clients overcome stuck patterns. Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease. She is not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she’ll call you out, and always help you grow. Gina has created thousands of tools, worksheets, guides and authored a few books to support relationships. Get on her email list if you’d like access to her tool library.
When she’s not working you can find her in her gorgeous urban garden, cooking dinners for friends, playing with her two adorable kids, or traveling the world with her partner, Rae.
Links and Resources
Book: Love More Fight Less, A Communication Workbook for Every Couple
Get on her email list if you’d like access to her tool library.
Listen to “149: The State of Our Union – Dr. Corey Allan” on Spreaker.
State of Our Union Program
Bringing personal life experience to the fore, Corey explains how the idea of ‘The State Of Our Union’ came about. On a weekly basis Corey and his wife used a text message reminder with 5 questions. This helped them escape work and family distractions and sit down with each other religiously to talk about their personal lives, sex and their emotions.
They now have a program you can join that allows you to practice the same commitment with your partner in order to share meaningful conversations. Once a week you will get a text message with 5 questions to discuss with your partner. Once every quarter you receive a different set of questions in addition to the 5 weekly questions, which are broader and more long term.
Corey encourages using a journal to write your answers down so that you can track your progress and keep in touch with each other on a more personal level. Approaching what you are both grateful for is an example of what the quarterly questions include. Corey emphasizes that it is not sex-focused and can be about anything we are grateful for. The program is built to bring people together and keep people in tune with each other.
In the case of couples not having the time to fit these candid heart to hearts with each other, Corey expresses that it is absolutely possible to find a few minutes to connect and not making the time is already a reflection of where your relationship is and what you need to work on.
Corey Allan (if you want to be formal it’s Dr. Corey Allan, but he’s usually pretty casual) is a husband, father, author, speaker, as well as a Marriage and Family Therapist and a Licensed Professional Counselor with a Ph.D. in Family Therapy. He and his wife Pam host a weekly podcast, Sexy Marriage Radio, where they help frame the conversation for couples to experience the best sex possible in their marriage.
Corey has a private practice in McKinney, TX and is the founder of sexymarriage.net, an online resource aimed at helping marriages not just survive, but thrive. Pam is a CPA at a small firm in Frisco TX as well as a co-pilot with Corey’s work.
To sum it up …
Love is a process, not just a feeling. It produces action. Added to this, life is a choice (so is marriage). Therefore, we work to help people:
- Grow deeper Spiritually
- Keep it simple
- Be passionate
- Live in community with others
- Enjoy the ride
Marriage is more about becoming a better human than it is about the two people being happy. So when you keep things simple, you are in a better position to experience more in marriage and life.
“I don’t want people surviving their relationships, I want them thriving.” ¬ Dr Corey Allan
Links and Resources
sexymarriage.net and sexymarriageradio.com
Stan Tatkin is the founder of A Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy®(PACT). He has worked with couples for more than fifteen years in his clinical practice. He teaches, he counsels, he writes, he does it all!
Stan has authored a few very important books throughout his career, some of them including: Wired for Love, Your Brain on Love, Wired for Dating, and his latest and the driving point behind this interview, We Do: Saying Yes to a Relationship of Depth, True Connection, and Enduring Love. All in all, I am delighted to have Stan on the show. You are really going to get a lot out of this talk!